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Full text of "The Legacy Of Egypt"

388                The Legacy to Modern Egypt
haemorrhoids. In both cases a beetle is cooked in oil, the wings
and head separately in fatty matter. It is the same remedy
become more specialized in its application. This narrowing
down of the purpose is also to be observed in tattooing. This
world-wide custom is in origin part of a generalized rite for
promoting life; in Modern Egypt it is used for specific dis-
eases.1
Modern opinion is not as favourable to ancient charms as
Abu Sahl, and a continuous attack is being made on them, but
they show considerable tenacity. Even more tenacious is the
belief in the evil eye. It seems once to have belonged to a
cosmological system in which the sun and moon were the eyes
of the world. Special virtue was attributed to the eye of Horus,
by which the moon was generally meant. Models of it were
therefore used as amulets. The good eye abounds in our
museums of antiquities; but of the evil eye we hear little beyond
the mention of 'a chapter on warding off the evil eye'. Now-
a-days fear and jealousy, sentiments which seem to be the after-
math of great civilizations, have given exclusive prominence to
the evil eye, while the good one has disappeared. What remains
has of course been attuned to Islam by the masses, who are
usually equally loyal to the new and to the old. It is Allah who
is now invoked against the evil eye which is supposed to be
inspired by the devil. They assimilate it to temptation which
can be set aside with the aid of God. That is another character-
istic of the change that has come over Egyptian culture: its tone
is strongly moral. The old religion was a quest of prosperity;
it has yielded its place to a rule of good conduct.
Light blue was much favoured by the ancients as a lucky
colour, probably because it is the colour of the clear sky. Beads
of that colour are still to be seen on the radiators of the latest
1 Hocart, 'Tattooing and Healing', Man, 1937, 196; H. Kees, Kulturge-
scbichte des alten Orients, i, Aegypten (Miinchen, 1933), 89; K. Sethe,
Dramatiscbe Textezu altaegyptiscben Mysterienspiden (Leipzig, 1928), 9, i. 9.